Flashback to late Spring when reality set in for me. Like it or not, we were in for the proverbial “long haul.” As my husband Ned and I were taking our afternoon walk, I lamented what we saw as the inevitable effects of the pandemic on AMIS. I did not think that AMIS would survive, as the entire foundation of friendship and hospitality is in- person relationships. As decades long volunteers, we were saddened by what we saw as the possible demise of the organization.
Yet, as 2020 draws to a close, AMIS is stronger than ever. I have been in awe of the ability of the organization to not only survive but to thrive. Staff, Board members, volunteers, and students came together virtually to brainstorm and plan how meaningful relationships could happen. Jigsaw puzzles and gift bags with masks were sent. Socially distanced mini-outings with a handful of students and AMIS folks were held for conversation and connection. Zoom sessions began with all sorts of topics, and the discussions were lively and fun. I helped out with a session that included the concept of bucket lists and morphed into a discussion of the American obsession with pumpkin spice, moonshine, NASCAR, and desserts (food is always a popular topic). The national election led to a Zoom discussion for students on how the American election process works. Thanksgiving involved gathering outdoors for fellowship and traditional turkey dinners.
So, the prediction I made in the Spring did not come to pass. With creativity, AMIS re-imagined how to create and foster the international friendships that have always meant so much, not only to the students but to those of us who are volunteers too. These friendships are, for the moment, mostly online, but we have gotten to know one another and care about each other. I am definitely optimistic now about AMIS, and my current prediction is that in the future I will meet these students in person...then we will walk together, talk together, and hug.
As we are in the midst of the “long haul” of COVID-19, please consider making a gift to sustain AMIS during these times. Your support is needed and will make a difference as AMIS continues its mission of promoting global understanding through friendship and hospitality with international students and scholars in the greater Atlanta area. I am confident that AMIS’s work of bringing international and American friends together is especially important now during a pandemic. And, because of what I have seen, I know AMIS will continue to grow stronger as we come together to support this life changing organization.
AMIS Volunteer and Donor
P.S. Please donate using AMIS's secure donation page.